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The Ghost Of John McCain At CPAC

The Ghost Of John McCain At CPACHad Senator John McCain been walking the halls of the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington this week, he might have winced to hear his name taken in vain — over and over again.

But Mr. McCain wasn’t anywhere to be found. In fact, he wasn’t even invited.

Never a darling of the conservative movement, Mr. McCain appeared at last year’s conference as the candidate on the verge of capturing his party’s presidential nomination. The audience hurled boos his way when he mentioned his past positions on immigration policy.

Conservatives had disliked him, in part because of his stance on campaign finance laws. When he spoke last year, he said: “We have had a few disagreements, and none of us will pretend that we won’t continue to have a few. But even in disagreement, especially in disagreement, I will seek the counsel of my fellow conservatives.”

This year, the Arizona senator, was also roundly criticized — in absentia.

“I am a recovering McCain surrogate,” Representative Michael C. Burgess, Republican of Texas, acknowledged during a panel on Friday. He spoke, in an almost confessional way, of how he traveled from city to city to campaign for the party’s standard-bearer.

On Thursday Mike Huckabee scolded Mr. McCain for voting for the Bush administration’s bailout bill last fall, saying that the Republican nominee “meekly” lined up behind Barack Obama to support it.

“That,” Mr. Huckabee said, “was not our best moment.”

A spokesman for the Conservative Political Action Conference, Ian Walters, said that the group decided not to send Mr. McCain an invitation to appear at the three-day event, which wraps up on Saturday.

In fact, Mr. Walters said that he could not recall the senator’s name coming up in any of the planning meetings for the conference. Notably, those meetings started in September, after Mr. McCain tapped Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to join the Republican ticket, a choice that energized the conservative base.

Still, the shadow of the 2008 presidential race loomed over the conference on Friday as the audience greeted former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney with a standing ovation. (It was at last year’s event that Mr. Romney ended his bid for the Republican nomination.)

“Some critics speak as if we need to redefine conservatism. I think that misses the mark,” Mr. Romney said. “America’s challenges are different from year to year, but our defining principles remain the same. Conservatives don’t enter each new political era trying to figure out what we believe.”

And, Mr. Romney left no doubts on Friday about his desire to remain a player in the Republican Party, and one more palatable to conservatives than Mr. McCain. He urged those in the room not to “dwell on the battles we’ve lost.”

Rather, Mr. Romney said, “we are here to get ready for the battles we’re going to win.”

Tomorrow, the conference features Rush Limbaugh in the late afternoon as its keynote speaker.

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Matt Cassel

Matt CasselPatriots trade Matt Cassel to the Chiefs

Patriots reserve quarterback Matt Cassel stepped in for Tom Brady last season and completed 63.4% of his passes for 3,693 yards with 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
The reserve quarterback, who guided New England to an 11-5 record in Tom Brady's absence, was sent to Kansas City along with linebacker Mike Vrabel for a second-round draft selection. Broncos sign safety Brian Dawkins.

n a move that gives every indication Tom Brady will be recuperated and ready for next season, New England traded quarterback Matt Cassel to Kansas City on Saturday as part of a package deal for the Chiefs' second-round pick in April's NFL draft.

Also as part of the deal, the Patriots sent Pro Bowl linebacker Mike Vrabel to the Chiefs, whose new general manager is longtime New England personnel man Scott Pioli.

The Patriots get the 34th pick in the draft.

Cassel, a former backup to Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart at USC, was one of the more remarkable stories of the 2008 NFL season. Even though he hadn't started a game since high school, he stepped in for Brady in the first quarter of the opener -- against Kansas City -- when the Patriots' star quarterback went down with a season-ending knee injury.

Over the next 16 weeks, Cassel rounded into a reliable starter who would complete 63.4% of his passes for 3,693 yards with 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

Because Cassel was to become a free agent, the Patriots recently applied the one-year franchise designation to him, guaranteeing him a salary of at least $14.65 million for 2009.

"It's very easy to root for guys like Matt Cassel, who do everything the right way and flourish as a result," Patriots Coach Bill Belichick said in a news release. "As much as we would have loved to continue working with Matt, we wish him nothing but the best as he takes this next step forward in his career."

Vrabel, 33, was a cornerstone of a New England defense that helped the Patriots to three Super Bowl victories this decade. He was a team captain the last four seasons, and reached the Pro Bowl in 2007, when his team became the first in NFL history to finish the regular season 16-0.

"When Mike arrived in 2001, we knew we were adding a solid outside linebacker," Belichick said of Vrabel, who signed as a free agent after beginning his NFL career in Pittsburgh. "But where Mike took it from there exceeded our highest hopes."

Broncos sign Dawkins

The Denver Broncos have signed seven-time Pro Bowl safety Brian Dawkins, who spent his entire 13-year career with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Although Dawkins turns 36 next season and is clearly on the downside of his career, he brings a hard-hitting style and leadership qualities coveted by new Broncos coach Josh McDaniels.

McDaniels, the New England Patriots offensive coordinator before he was hired to replace Mike Shanahan in Denver, envisions his new veteran safety playing a role similar to what Rodney Harrison had in New England in recent seasons.

The Broncos also signed free agent safety Renaldo Hill, who helped lead the Miami Dolphins' turnaround last season

Dawkins figures he has at least a couple more good seasons in him. He started all 16 games last season for the third time in four years and recorded 75 tackles, three sacks, six forced fumbles and an interception.

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Plenty Of Fish

Plenty Of Fish
Plenty of Fish suffers major outage

Popular free dating site Plenty of Fish has suffered a major outage this afternoon.

Visitors to the site saw only a “Bad Request (Invalid Hostname)” message on the screen, and we’re unable to get any further into the service.

Notably this type of error would normally indicate a domain issue with the site, that may mean that it may take some time to fix. A fix to an IP address for example has to propagate across the web, and at worst case this can take up to 48 hours.

There’s no official word yet from Plenty of Fish on the outage.

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